Re-establishing themselves at home could help them begin overcoming the loss of their top scorer.
Fresh off having their record winning streak halted in dramatic fashion, the Red Wings look to regain first place in the league standings Saturday night when they face the Colorado Avalanche at Joe Louis Arena.
Detroit (41-18-3) is 12-12-5 without Datsyuk over the last two seasons, including 0-2-1 in 2011-12. Those struggles have re-emerged as the Red Wings have dropped back-to-back contests after the All-Star left wing underwent arthroscopic knee surgery that is expected to sideline him for two weeks.
“The best player in the world, any time he goes out, you’re going to miss him,” left wing Justin Abdelkader said. “It’s a big void.”
The Wings struggled to fill that void Thursday, falling 4-3 in a shootout to Vancouver, ending their league-record 23-game home winning streak. It appeared they were going to extend the run, but Jimmy Howard gave up a goal with 15.4 seconds left in regulation before surrendering the deciding tally on the final shootout attempt.
Still, Detroit is 26-2-2 at home - a key reason the club is second in the NHL, one point back of the Canucks in the race for the Presidents’ Trophy and home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs.
Kyle Quincey will try to help the Red Wings regain the lead in that race by continuing their home success against the Avalanche, who sent him to Detroit in a three-team trade Tuesday.
The defenseman, a 2003 fourth-round draft pick by the Wings, scored in his return to the team Thursday, and now he’s trying to explain some controversial comments about his former employer.
“Everyone is ready to get shipped out any day,” Quincey told Yahoo! on Thursday according to the team’s official website. “There’s a lot of guys, their bags are packed beside the door, and they wouldn’t be unhappy to go - trust me. I know I had a big smile on my face, and all the guys were jealous. I think there’s a bunch of guys that were pissed off they weren’t in a package deal.”
One day later, Quincey claimed his words were taken out of context.
“It wasn’t all in Colorado, it was the whole league,” he said Friday. “Everyone until Monday at 3 (leading up to the NHL’s trade deadline) is pretty anxious, that goes for everybody, not just Colorado, everybody in the league. I don’t want to put any of my former teammates in hot soup, I regret saying the stuff that I did, but it wasn’t towards them.”
The Red Wings are 9-1-4 against the Avalanche at Joe Louis Arena, winning the most recent meeting 5-2 on Nov. 8 behind a hat trick from Johan Franzen.
Franzen has 11 goals in the past 10 games versus Colorado, but the right wing enters this matchup without a tally in three contests.
The Avalanche, two points out of the eighth and final playoff position in the Western Conference, are looking to win three games in a row for the first time since a four-game winning streak from Dec. 29-Jan. 6. They’ve generated impressive momentum, winning 5-0 at Columbus on Friday following a three-goal first period that led to a 4-1 home victory against Los Angeles two days prior.
David Jones is looking to build on his two goals and one assist from Friday. The right wing has five goals and six assists over the last eight games, matching his point total from the previous 37.
He has three goals and five assists in the past 10 meetings with the Red Wings, but no points in three matchups this season.